Tillman staying positive about move to bullpen

Right-hander: "I needed to get back to being me, and it wasn't happening starting"

August 6th, 2017

BALTIMORE -- After a frightful start to his season, where he threw to a 1-7 record with an 8.10 ERA, Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman wasn't surprised when manager Buck Showalter told him he was heading to the bullpen.

Tillman, who missed the first month of the season with a right shoulder injury and won the first game he pitched but hasn't recorded a victory in his last 14 starts, knows his season has to get better.

"I knew something was going to happen," Tillman said. "I needed to get back to being me, and it wasn't happening starting, so I guess it's going to be a good thing. I need to get back, and I think it's for no other purpose than that."

Tillman has 194 Major League starts, but has never pitched in relief. The 29-year-old hasn't pitched regularly out of the bullpen since 2006, his first season in professional baseball. He had one relief appearance with Triple-A Norfolk in 2012.

"It's not easy. I've never seen myself in that spot, but you know what? I haven't been pitching well enough," Tillman said.

"I understand. I'm not mad. I just need to get better. I'm not going to go down there and mope around. I'm going to go down there for one reason, and one reason only, and that's to get better and get back to being who I know I can be. It hasn't gone anywhere. It's not gone. I just need to get back to it. Finally, it's headed in the right direction."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter says that Tillman was amenable to the change.

"Chris is the ultimate, 'What's-best-for-the-team' guy," Showalter said.

"Believe me, you may not always see it, he wears it. It bothers him."

Three times in 's Orioles career, including earlier this season, Showalter sent him to the bullpen, and it rejuvenated him and earned him a return to the starting rotation. Showalter is hoping the same happens with Tillman.

Tillman talked with several members of the staff, who have started and relieved, including Jimenez and Zach Britton, the latter who has achieved great success after being converted from a starter to a reliever in 2014. 

"There's a few guys I've talked to about it. I think there's a lot of experience when it comes to that in this clubhouse," Tillman said. "Take it with a positive mindset and get back."

Tillman is going to have to make adjustments and knows he'll have to do the prep work as well as pitch well in games.

"I've got to pitch better, regardless. I think what was going on before wasn't good enough," Tillman said. "I think side sessions and bullpens, those are important because that's where you kind of iron everything out and then when you get into a game that's when you put it to use and you start to hopefully see the results."